What’s going on here? Residents protest at ‘secretive’ aggregate summit held in Caledon
Concerned stakeholders protest outside secret aggregate summit in Caledon. -Michael Douglas photo
About a dozen residents stood outside the gates of the Hampton Inn and Suites on Friday morning to protest a meeting between the province and aggregate industry leaders which they say was “secretive.”
“We asked and asked to be included,” said Graham Flint from Gravel Watch Ontario, a coalition of citizens and non-government organizations seeking to improve the management of aggregate in Ontario. “But we got nothing back. Silence.”
The residents, some from as far away as Rockwood, Ont., say they wanted to have a seat at the meeting because they’re concerned with provincial reforms to “cut red tape” for the industry’s government approvals.
“’The people of Ontario value clean air and water, our environment and our farmland. We will not stand by quietly why they continue their secret assault on the environment to the benefit of their rich industry friends,” said Cheryl Conners, from Caledon.
John Yakabuski, minister of natural resources and forestry, announced during a speech in February that he would be hosting the summit on aggregate reform to gather feedback from industry stakeholders. The exact location of the event wasn’t disclosed until a few days ago.
According to the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, about 100 to 150 partners from the industry were invited to the summit.
Along with Yakabuski, Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, was expected to be there along with members of municipal government, including Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson and representatives from Indigenous communities.
There Are Enough Licensed Pits and Quarries in Ontario – The Aggregate Industry Reform Needs Leadership and Vision Not Less Regulations
News release from Association of Citizens Together In Our Nassagaweya March 27 2019
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) on March 29, 2019 will be holding a meeting with the Aggregate Industry. The Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (OSSGA) will likely be presenting their “Untangling Red Tape” proposal. The OSSGA wants less scrutiny and interference from government or other interested parties. All this as the MNRF considers reforming the aggregate industry. Unfortunately, the public is not invited to the meeting to make statements or simply observe. However, the public can respond to targeted questions on an Ontario website.
That’s just not good enough, it doesn’t give opportunity to discuss risk of harm to the public and the environment.
Residents aren’t saying there is no need for aggregate. We have 5,000 Pits and Quarries in Ontario. The issues raised by communities are dismissed as NIMBYism (not in my back-yard thinking) or fear mongering. They are neither; communities are worried about their wellbeing and the environment.
The MNRF is the largest benefactor of aggregate and has the influence to rebuild an antiquated supply chain management system that is at odds with communities who find themselves opposing applications. Why? Because it is based on a “close to market” supply chain strategy that might have made sense 50 years ago, when there was no GTHA.
This meeting demonstrates Corporate Interests come before Public Interests. Since the public is not invited, the Minister should ask each industry member to define their Social Responsibility Statement to protect the public and environment from harm?
If Premier Ford and Minister Yakabuski, want to reform the aggregate industry they should start here:
-Scrutinize every application with strict focus on public and environmental risks.
-Only aggregate companies benefit from “close to market” strategies. Identify and develop a sophisticated supply chain that is less intrusive and consistent with Premier Ford’s promise to protect water and the greenbelt.
-Do not allow aggregate licenses to be approved in areas with 50 plus homes within a 3-kilometre radius.
-Introduce new technology to monitor air, water, dust, noise and blasting. Monitored by the MNRF, paid by aggregate operators, with oversite from all other government agencies.
The Premier and the Minister know that reform requires vision, leadership, good governance and placing public interest before corporate interests.
News release from the Palgrave Residents Association
March 28 2019
The Ford Government is holding a secret Aggregate Summit in the Town of Caledon tomorrow (March 29th).
The Government has gone to great lengths to keep the location secret, and has refused requests from concerned residents, environmental and other stakeholder groups, to participate. We have learned the location of this secret meeting. It will take place at the Hampton Inn in Bolton, ON. The address is: 12700 Highway 50 (on the same side of the road as the McDonald’s).
At this point, we only know two mayors who will be in attendance, and one of them is Caledon mayor Allan Thompson.
The Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (OSSGA) has released a number of white papers that indicate that the aggregate industry want far-reaching changes to aggregate legislation under the #FordNation spin of “reducing red tape” and making Ontario “open for business” by creating jobs in the aggregate industry.
We know that pits and quarries do not produce a large amount of jobs and it would be far more valuable to the Ontario economy to keep this land as working farms. In 2017, Ontario’s family farm and food processing businesses contributed $39.5 billion and supported 822,483 jobs. Agriculture and agri-food processors are the number one economic contributor to Ontario’s overall economy. (Source: Ontario Federation of Agriculture)
I have attached a copy of a couple of the OSSGA white papers. They are alarming, to say the least.
You can see in the attached OSSGA documents that many of these industry requests would have monumentally adverse effects for the residents of Ontario. In summary, the aggregate industry would like to be exempt from virtually all environmental legislation.
Some of the industry requests include:
· Insisting municipalities have no right to set hours of operation for pits and quarries
· Allowing below-the-water table aggregate operations anywhere, including places where they are currently excluded (e.g. Oak Ridges Moraine National Linkage and Core areas)
· Allowing commercial fill to be brought in as part of the rehabilitation process – without requiring additional approvals or having to abide by current Table One soil requirements (potable/safe for drinking water)
· Exempting aggregate operations from the Endangered Species Act and requirements to not extract in areas containing significant wetlands or treelots
There is also language that they would like to simplify aggregate license approvals, which implies that municipal approval for zoning could be taken away. This could be an unprecedented attack on municipal control over land use planning and turn communities into giant pits, completely destroying the health & safety of our communities and our quality of life.
Multiple residents’ and environmental groups have requested that they be allowed to attend this summit and have been refused.
The Ford government has sent out messaging that they are preparing to give the aggregate industry everything they are asking for, under the guise of creating jobs and reducing red tape.
Ontario Minister of Natural Resources Minister John Yakabuski will be in attendance at the meeting.
We are planning to demonstrate at the Summit, to show Minister Yakabuski and #FordNation that their secret backroom meeting with this rich and powerful industry is not happening unnoticed. We will show them that “the people” of Ontario value clean air and water, our environment and our farmland. We will not stand by quietly why they continue their secret assault on the environment to the benefit of their rich industry friends.
Please plan to attend the protest. The Summit is expected to begin at 8:00 am with the Minister expected to give opening remarks. We would really like to see a good crowd when Mayor Thompson and Minister Yakabuski arrive. It would be great if you could be there by 7:45 am.